Reluctant Alliance with Russia, Hope for S-300, Milex-2014 - Belarus Security Digest

Reluctant allies: Moscow has to put up with Minsk's position in the war against Ukraine. However, Putin does not see it necessary to hide his irritation any longer.

The exhibition of arms and military machinery Milex-2014 was a success. Helicopters are a luxury for Belarusian border guards.

Belarus hopes that Moscow will finally keep its promise and transfer four battalions of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems.

Moscow is unhappy with Minsk; Minsk does not believe Moscow

On 2 July 2014, Russia's President Vladimir Putin paid a one-day visit to Minsk to attend the festivities on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazis.

Initially, Minsk hoped that Vladimir Putin would come on 3 July to attend the festivities and the traditional military parade. According to our sources, it was the reason for moving the parade to the evening. For the daytime, they scheduled a number of events with participation of Putin and Lukashenka, which eventually had to be moved to 2 July.

The Belarusian authorities showed their lack of confidence in Moscow's reliability as an ally during the entire month. On 8 July 2014, during his visit to the 103rd Guards independent mobile brigade of the Special Operation Forces of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka imparted his apprehensions that "the brothers [i.e. the Russians] would fail to cover our backs and we would have to fight the war on our own".

On 15 July 2014, while receiving graduates of military schools, Alexander Lukashenka said that the Belarusian army was able to "respond adequately to internal and external threats to the national security".

It should be noted separately that during the reception of graduates of military schools Lieutenant General Viktar Sheiman was on a par with the current leaders of security agencies. Sheiman may be regarded as an anti-crisis manager. And if Alexander Lukashenka once again has called upon his old proven staff, it means that the crisis is "on the doorstep".

Exhibition of arms and military machinery Milex-2014

The traditional international exhibition of arms and military machinery Milex-2014 took place on 9-12 July. The event was the biggest in its entire history. At the exhibition, Belarusian companies of the military and industrial complex signed about 60 contracts, agreements and letters of intent in the area of armaments and military equipment.

According to officials, the total volume of the contracts amounted to $60 mln. Besides, further contracts worth over $1 bln are under discussion.

The visit to Belarus of Pakistan's Minister of Defence Production Tanveer Hussain held in the framework of Milex-2014 is especially noteworthy.

Pakistan presents a special interest to Belarus also because this country is one of China's key partners. In addition, the level of development of Pakistan's defence industry may be of interest to Belarus in a number of areas, including missile and aviation technology.

Russia is ready to transfer S-300 to Belarus

At least, they say so. During the exhibition, the signing by the Russian party of a contract for a gratuitous transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Belarus was announced. The transfer of the equipment will take place after the Belarusian party signs the document.

The number of the systems to be transferred is not known: will all four battalions promised already in 2011 be transferred or only a part of them? The modification of the anti-aircraft missile systems in question is also unknown.

Earlier, they talked about S-300PMU1 but the transfer of S-300PS systems of earlier modifications (1989 – 1995) appears more likely. The latter are upgradable to versions that are more sophisticated.

Since April 2011, the issue of supply of four battalions of S-300 has been publicly discussed. In the meantime, they have always said that the supply can be expected in the nearest future. The equipment should be transferred "as is" and Belarus will pay for its repair, shipment and modernisation.

It should be noted separately that Moscow has demonstrated far greater quickness in the issue of supply of five battalions of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Kazakhstan. In January this year they signed a respective agreement and the delivery of the equipment should begin later this year already.

Minsk needs S-300 to replace the liquid fuel missile systems S-200.

The border guards left without helicopters

The helicopter unit of the State Border Committee of Belarus was transferred to the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The reason for this was the need to optimise the costs of the border agency.

Belarus plans to replace the helicopters by UAVs, which have much lower operational costs and announced that the border guards would receive the short-range UAVs Berkut-2. The tactical range of its operation is up to 35 km with altitudes range from 100 to 3,000 metres. However, those are the declared parameters which in practise are likely to be more modest.

Belarus continues to develop its own anti-aircraft missile system

It was announced that there were already 15 procurement requests for the domestic anti-aircraft missile system Halberd. However, most likely the question is not about firm contracts but only letters of intent. The development of the anti-aircraft missile system Halberd is in its final stage; the product is not ready yet.

Further development of the project of the domestic anti-aircraft missile system Halberd bumps into the absence of Belarus' own missiles. The instability in Ukraine restrains cooperation with this country.

Attempts to buy missiles in the West or in Russia are doomed to failure: nobody needs competitors. In this regard, integration of the missiles of the anti-aircraft missile system Buk in Halberd may be of interest.

Firstly, these missiles have more powerful warheads in comparison with the already used. Secondly, there is a certain stock of these missiles. Thirdly, the domestic air defence system, which, in its turn, is a part of the unified regional air defence system of Belarus and Russia, uses the anti-aircraft missile systems Buk.

The number of those wishing to become army officers constantly decreases

During the second year in a row, the admission campaign to military schools and military departments of civilian universities essentially ends in failure. An additional enrolment has been announced in an expedited manner and the requirements to the level of training of the prospective students have been dramatically reduced.

Moreover, some schools substantially reduced their recruitment plans already in the beginning of the admission campaign. However, it will not solve the problem.

Thus, the last year's experience shows that many students admitted during the additional recruitment failed to pass the first exams and were dismissed for underperformance. 

Andrei Parotnikau

Andrei is the head of “Belarus Security Blog” analytical project.

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